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Loaded Urbana boys continue climb by putting away Blair, cruising into 4A state semifinals

URBANA — Finally for Urbana boys lacrosse, the quick strikes came.

The Hawks had played nearly the entire game in the offensive zone, but goals were less frequent than coach Gavin Donahue would have liked due to poor shots and a series of nice saves by Montgomery Blair goalie Trenton Royall.

But in 90 seconds late in the third quarter, Urbana’s TJ Harne, Brady Roberton and Jacob Ward found the back of the net to initiate the running clock. Their high-percentage shots have fueled the Hawks all season, and after Wednesday’s 16-2 home win in the Class 4A state quarterfinals, top-seeded Urbana knows it will have to get more of that as plays in its fourth consecutive state semifinal.

The Hawks will take on Churchill on Friday or Saturday at a neutral site to be announced.

“When we play unselfish … when we move the ball well, we get high-percentage shots,” Ward said. “We have weapons everywhere.”

That’s how Urbana (18-0) has averaged more than 14 goals per game this season while facing some of the stiffest competition in the state.

Usually, the Hawks share the ball and get open looks. But they didn’t always convert against the Blazers, despite the score.

“We got higher percentage shots. We just didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight,” Donahue said. “I know we scored 16 goals, but we didn’t shoot the ball very well.”

Still, it’s a testament to Urbana’s patience and stranglehold on possession that it produced another lopsided result as it continues to breeze through the playoffs. While the Hawks have faced nary a challenge in their first three games, that’s about to change.

They’ve been knocked out of the state semifinals each of the past two seasons, and the Bulldogs are a typically strong foe. If Urbana clears that hurdle, Broadneck likely awaits, seeking to end the Hawks’ season for the third straight year.

Thus, any sort of slip up or less-than-perfect play could prove costly.

“Not being complacent, not being happy where we’re at. Continue to play with a chip on our shoulder,” Donahue said. “Getting past our hurdle of the last two years, getting knocked out in the state semifinals, and I think that’s in the back of these guys’ minds.”

In order to keep that up, the Hawks will need to get more shots into the back of the net when opportunities present themselves, as they did Wednesday.

“We just gotta start making the goalie move, because a lot of the shots either hit him or hit him right in the stick,” sophomore midfielder Jayden Sharper said. “Shooting it there doesn’t help.”

But the Hawks were still able to blow shots by the goalie on numerous occasions.

Harne continued his stellar campaign with a nine-point night (five goals, four assists), and he had plenty of help. Ward had a hat trick, while Roberton and Sharper each scored twice. Johnny Crane, Grant Altuner, Trent Gotlinger and Elijah Jean-Jacques all had a goal apiece.

“You can try to take away somebody, but everybody else is gonna get something going,” Sharper said.

Blair (6-9) scored the game’s first and last goal on tallies from Franklin Curtis and Owen Howard. Royall made 10 saves.